Boxing Day Loan Watch!

Altrincham had a Boxing Day to remember, turning on the style to beat FC Halifax Town 2-1 with a spectacular added-time winner from Chris Conn-Clarke. But what about those Robins players currently out on loan? What sort of Boxing Day did they have? Press and media officer John Edwards brings you up to date.

FC United of Manchester 4 Ashton United 0

Not the sort of debut Matt Gould would have hoped for, if the scoreline is anything to go by. In actual fact, matters would have been far worse for an off-key Ashton but for a string of excellent saves by the experienced Alty keeper, particularly in what manager Michael Clegg described as an ‘absolutely torrid’ first half.

There was little indication of the horrors to come, as Ashton started on the front foot and threatened in only the sixth minute, when Alty right-back Aidan Roxburgh advanced down the wing and unleashed an effort that was blocked.

Matt was called into action for the first time just seconds later, making a fine save to deny Charlie Ennis, and he must have sensed he was in for a busy afternoon a minute after that when he had to react sharply to keep out a powerful effort from Regan Linney.

There was nothing he could do about Linney’s 14th-minute opener for FC United, but he thoroughly deserved the slice of luck that came his way in the 28th minute when another outstanding parry was pounced on and turned home by Joe Rodwell-Grant, only for the celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

Rodwell-Grant doubled the lead on the half-hour, and things went from bad to worse three minutes later when the referee awarded FC United a penalty, duly converted by Ennis, and showed Sam Baird a straight red card for his role in conceding it.

Matt excelled again when Alex Wollerton tested him in the 40th minute, but, by now, it had become an exercise in damage limitation, as Ashton went into the break 3-0 down.

Aidan needed treatment for a stray arm to the face in the 51st minute, and Matt pulled off another top save from a Rodwell-Grant chip, as Ashton struggled for a way back into the game.

Finally, Callum Gribbin wrapped up the scoring in the 85th minute to leave Ashton boss Clegg lamenting: ‘The first half was the worst in my time at the club - I just didn’t see that coming.’

Skelmersdale United 2 Widnes 0

Alty centre-back Josh Jordan and forward Sharif Deans both started for relegation-threatened Widnes, but the away side missed out on the chance to climb off the foot of the table and overtake their hosts in the Pitching In Northern Premier League West Division.

There was little to choose between the sides, but Skelmersdale edged ahead with a close-range finish from Matt Hamilton in the 61st minute and made sure of the points when Stephen Milne forced the ball home following a 78th-minute corner.

Macclesfield 4 Hanley Town 0

A thankless task for Hanley away to the NPL West Division leaders, but they had their moments, not least when Alty frontrunner Eden Bailey hit the bar in the second half.

Indeed, it was Hanley who threatened first in the eighth minute when skipper Louis Dodds fired in a shot following a goalmouth scramble, and the ever-alert Eden just failed to latch on to the rebound.

Though Macc went in front in the 29th minute, they were very nearly pegged back within two minutes, as Eden again had alarm bells ringing in the home camp with a snap-shot that flew narrowly over from a tight angle.

That jolted the league leaders into redoubling their efforts, and they were 3-0 ahead at half-time and then 4-0 to the good a minute into the second half, before Eden again showed his sharpness with an effort that rattled the crossbar.

Ramsbottom United 3 Trafford 2

Alty striker Ryan Morton was left warming the Trafford bench for an hour or so, but he wasted no time showing what he is about after going on as a 62nd-minute substitute.

Trafford were trailing 2-1 at the time, but they were level within a couple of minutes as Tom Bentham rounded off an excellent team move with his second goal of the game.

In the 75th minute, Robins youngster Ryan provided another reminder of what a handful he can be for defenders with a typically-forceful driving run that set up a hat-trick chance for Bentham that he sliced wide.

Bentham was left to rue that missed opportunity, as Ramsbottiom went up the other end and sealed the NPL West Division points with an 87th-minute winner.

Irlam 5 Ashton Athletic 3

Alty fans who follow the Reserves and Youth teams’ fortunes know all about Lewis Billingsley’s scoring prowess, and it looks very much like North West Counties League Premier Division defences are going to find out, too.

Young Alty Academy second year defender Owen German was an unused substitute, but Lewis (pictured) was very much in the thick of the action as the Robins pair began their one-month loan with Ashton Athletic.

Alty Reserves skipper Lewis made the most of some slipshod marking to make it 2-1 to Athletic in the 34th minute and was on the mark again to put his side within sight of a valuable point in the 77th minute.

It was 3-3 at that late stage, but Irlam scored in the 86th and 90th minutes to take the points and leave Athletic rooted to the foot of the table. What a debut by the young Alty hot-shot, though - two goals and named his team’s man-of-the-match. Well done, Lewis!

*Alty defender Joe Cooney was on the bench for Northwich Victoria’s 2-1 defeat to Congleton Town, while the game between Alsager Town (Harlan Rodgers-Morris and Ewan McGeady) and Foley Meir was postponed.

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